LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

as petals fall before your eyes. by frostfall

Hanahaki disease is a fictional disease, which happens when a person's romantic love is one-sided. A person with this disease would cough out flower petals. The disease only ends when their love is returned or they die.


Title comes from "Hypnotised" by Years & Years.






*****






It happens one rainy night.


Mike’s scribbling down a verse when a cough cuts him off.


And then his world falls apart.


He watches the yellow petal fall onto his lap, his heart plummeting as realization slowly consumes his confusion.


“You alright?”


The grin has slipped off Chester’s face, concern etched in place.


Mike forces a smile. “Yeah,” he says, snatching his pencil off the ground, “I was just thinking.”


Usually, white lies like these won’t work on Chester. White lies have always sided with Chester every single time.


For a moment he thinks Chester’s going to press him. Instead, the white lie does the unthinkable.


Mike swallows a sob as his gaze lands onto the koi fish etched into Chester’s skin. He rips the petal with his fingernails and takes a long sip from his coffee.


Later when Chester falls asleep next to him, his breath warm and heart steady, Mike allows himself to feel guilty.


But he shouldn’t. It’s not a lie. He was, no, is thinking of stuff.


Like how he’s going to die.




*****




Mike has seen people die because of this wretched disease.


Three kids from high school, a guy that lived above his dorm, several strangers on campus grounds, a middle-aged woman collapsing in line at Starbucks. One time when he was waiting at a stoplight, he watched someone step out in the middle of traffic.


He should’ve seen it coming. All those instances were foreshadowing, a precautionary tale to not love someone that won’t love him back.


But the thing is, Mike has always been a cautionary man. It’s why he can’t comprehend why this happening to him. He doesn’t simply fall for anyone. His brain has always guided his heart to people who could return his affections.


Then again, you’d have to have a heart of stone to not fall in love with Chester Bennington.




*****




The first couple of weeks are a breeze.


The petals that fall out of his lips come in ones, sometimes twos. Mike’s quick enough to snatch them out of mid-air and pocket them, easing himself back into conversations like he’s falling apart.


Still, he can’t help the sharp pain he feels when no one notices the sudden petal floating or how his breath is sickly floral. Neither do they acknowledge how his breathing has grown shallower or one too many coughs tumble out of his lips.


It’s a victory nonetheless. A hollow victory.




*****





Anna finds out first.


This doesn’t surprise Mike. She’s always known him better than he does about himself.


Out of everyone that could’ve known about this, he’s glad it’s her. She has her back and he hers. They’ve been through a lot of shit together – love, fame, marriage, distance, divorce.


Now, they could add death to that list.


Anna watches another petal fall onto the counter. This time, it’s tinged in crimson, staining Mike’s tuna sandwich. He thrusts his hand into his pocket, joining it with the other ones he’s exhaled throughout the morning.


“Are you gonna tell me who it is?” she asks carefully, her slender fingers thumbing at a different petal, the sunlight bringing out its golden hue.


He doesn’t meet her gaze. There’s no point.


He could feel the disapproval radiating from her. The delicate way she takes his palm in hers indicates otherwise. “Let me help you.”


Mike thinks of heartache and pain and deserving and shakes his head.




*****




Some days are easy. He finds himself immersed in his music and his art and for a moment, he forgets Chester and his blinding smile, forgets the blood and flowers, forgets that his lungs are going to give out one day.


But then things take for a turn for the worse when he’s called to work.


It shouldn’t surprise him. Mike has always underestimated death. And now he’s paying the price.


“Told you drinking all that tea is going to kill your bladder,” Chester teases when Mike returns to him. He’s flashing him that stupid grin of his and they’re alone in the studio right now and oh fuck, oh fuck, fuck, fuck.


Mike cracks a smile, his nostrils filled with metal and nectar. “Guess so.”




*****




Mike has always been a flower guy. He’s always admired the various types, the different hues, the sweet scents. It also helps that he doesn’t have an allergic reaction to pollen.


When he was a kid, his parents would accompany him and his brother to the park on Sunday mornings.


Jason always made a beeline for the playground. Mike detours to the flower garden.


He’d sit cross-legged on the ground, filling pages of his sketchbook with flower and flower and flower until his mother tells him it’s time to head home.


Several years later when he’s old enough to have a library card, he’d borrow books on flowers and their appearances, flowers and their uses, flowers and their meanings.


Flowers and that stupid fucking incurable disease which he ignorantly thought would never have happened to him.


If Mike doesn’t love music and art so much, he would’ve definitely been a florist. Maybe even a botanist.


But now, it’s too late. If he had just loved flowers a little bit more, he wouldn’t be—


No.


No, he wouldn’t change a thing.




*****




“They’re daffodils,” Anna says as a way of greeting.


Mike glances down at the clump of petals floating in his cereal. The cornflakes and milk have long turned red.


He doesn’t bother telling her he has known that for a while now.


Daffodils mean rebirth. New beginnings. Eternal life.


Unrequited love.


Blood trickles down his chin. Anna sighs as she reaches for a paper towel.




*****




Chester almost finds out two months into the disease.


They’re having a Star Trek marathon, much to Chester's distaste and Mike’s insistence. Chester skipping out on one of the best things known to mankind is absurd. He might be far behind but they do have time.


No, Chester does.


Chester's in the middle of yelling at Kirk and Spock to bang when Mike coughs out several petals.


Chester doesn’t notice the stricken look on Mike’s face or how frantic he is to reach for the box of tissues on the coffee table. Yet again, luck is on his side.


“What’s that on the floor?”


Mike freezes.


The credits are rolling, the theme song filling the room. The room is colder than it should be.


“On the floor?”


“Yeah. By your feet. They look like snake skins. Baby snake skins… Or you know what, maybe petals. They look like flower petals.”


A retort is on the tip of Mike’s tongue but his lungs get the better of him. He curses when a palm pats him on his back. A shiver courses down his spine.


“I’ll get you some water,” Chester murmurs and in a blink of an eye, a glass is pushed into his grasp. Mike gulps it greedily, silently praying his lungs would be kind enough to allow this ruse.


“Anna brought some over last week,” he rasps. “I must’ve forgotten to sweep them.”


It’s difficult to comprehend what Chester’s reaction is. The television screen tells him he isn't happy. Mike chooses to ignore it.


It’s one of the many times he’s thankful that the lights are off. Otherwise, Chester would’ve realized he has been sidestepping blood this whole time.




*****




Once upon a time before all this nonsense, they’ve talked about it.


Mike’s a little tipsy and Chester’s way past drunk when he brings it up.


“Who do you think is least likely to kill me because of Hanahaki?”


Mike doesn’t miss a beat. “Me.”


Chester’s blinks are sluggish but suddenly he’s sitting up straighter. “No… I… Wait, seriously?”


Mike nods slowly.


“I mean… Don’t get me wrong.” Chester pauses to take another swig. “I’m flattered and all but why…I…?” He gestures to his chest, his liquor sloshing in his glass. “With this?”


Mike shrugs his shoulders. Years down the road, he’d come to regret his nonchalance.


“Because you’re you.”


The laugh Chester lets out is pained but light. “You’re drunk.”


Mike rolls his eyes as he makes a move for the whiskey bottle, sticking his tongue out when Chester pulls it closer to him. “I’m not.”


“You are. You’re drunk and you’re saying shit you don’t mean.”


“You’re the drunk one.”


“I am,” Chester agrees, “but so are you.”


A thought flickers in his head. It fades away before he can comprehend what it is.


“Fine,” Mike relents. “Ask me tomorrow again and I’ll still answer you the same. Provided we don’t die of alcohol poisoning, that is.”


Thankfully, neither of them are dead the next day. Chester asks him after a trip to the bathroom, a glass of water, and a two-hour nap.




*****




Eventually, the coughs become frequent. The petals morph into flowers. The flowers become less yellow.


Fuck the world.




*****




“Hey, you— Oh.”


Anna’s hand immediately retracts from his jaw, her fingers stained. Mike doesn’t meet Chester’s gaze, choosing to stare down at the book on his lap.


Incurable. Incurable. Incurable. Incurable. Incu—


Anna, who is the best of them, speaks first. “Chester—”


But then he hears footsteps retreating and Anna rushes after Chester and Mike should follow, should tell him to stay with me, stay with fucking me, I’m dying but then he’s spewing crap out of his mouth and all of a sudden, he’s a pathetic heap on the floor.


Anna reappears like the magical angel she is and guides him to his bed. There’s something incomprehensible behind her eyes. He could guess what it is.


“You knew?”


She nods as she turns away to fluff his pillow. Mike swears he hears her suppress a sob.


Like he said, she knows him so well.




*****




“You like flowers?” asks a girl once when Mike’s filling out his sketch with color. He’s seen her around. She’s always playing with Jason, pushing him on the swings and egging him on the monkey bars. Why she’s here with him, he can’t figure out.


“Mm hmm.”


“What’s your favorite?”


Mike gives it a long thought before picking up a yellow crayon.




*****




“You didn’t tell me you’re back with her.”


It’s the first time they’ve been alone since that day. Mike thinks it’s for the best, makes it easier to lie and fake his way through his day. He’d sacrifice all of their inside jokes and stupid banter and comforting touches for this, for all of this.


But then there’s this stupid fucking album he has to write. He has to write a stupid fucking album that all of their fans are going to hate again and he’s dying, he’s fucking dying.


Mike tries his best to exhale. He could feel a daffodil lodged at the back of his throat. “It's not like that.”


“I’m sure it is.”


The disdain in Chester’s voice is evident, his lips pressed into a thin line. Mike wonders how his lips would taste like. Much better than flowers and blood, for sure.


“It is.”


He would’ve said more had he not turn away to cough. It’s pastel yellow.


He takes his victories when he can.




*****




It gets to the point when talking is difficult and his house is his only sanctuary.


And that’s where he resigns himself for the rest of his days.


Mike gets calls and texts from many people – family, friends, acquaintances, the label.


Chester.


He swipes left for the seventy-three time today before rolling onto his back. He crushes more petals, the blood soaking his pristine white T-shirt.


He’s too worn out to care.




*****




“Mike,” Anna says firmly after handing him a clean bucket, “I’m staying. And that’s final.”


He would’ve protest if he could breathe properly.


Anna has always been a cunning woman.




*****




A hundred more calls end up in voicemail.


Mike tries to suck in a breath and returns to his sketch. He ends up crumbling it in his fist.


He's done with koi fish.




*****




A week later, Brad’s lying on Mike’s couch with fury on his face. Anna offers an apologetic glance, fiddling with her mug.


“She won’t tell me who it is,” Brad bites out, motioning to sit. “Who is it? Who is it so I can kick their fucking ass.”


Mike averts his gaze, anger and shame getting the better of him.


“I think you know who.”


If he’s in a better state, he would’ve thought Brad’s shock comical.


The unsettling silence lasts until the sun is high in the sky.




*****




Mike takes it all back. Flowers are the scum of the earth.




*****




He makes a mistake of swiping green several days later.


Chester is frantic when he speaks, pelting Mike with concern and pleas. He’s possibly, no, definitely crying.


He doesn’t deserve this, deserve the heartache and pain all because Mike did the stupid thing and followed his heart for once in his life.


Chester deserves better than him.


Mike hangs up and locks himself in his room. He puts on Public Enemy and Tupac and heaves until the knocks cease.


He hates how contagious tears can be.




*****




“Did you tell him?”


Brad shakes his head. “Unfortunately.”


Mike nods. At least loyalty still means something to the both of them.




*****




“What the fuck is up with you?” Chester demands when Mike makes a dumb move of accepting Anna’s call. “Everyone’s worried sick about you. B— Is that blood?”


Chester’s horrified expression is the last thing he sees before Mike slams the door shut. It’s going to haunt him throughout the rest of his life.


Mike slumps to the ground, his back pressed against wood. He chokes out more flowers as Chester calls out his name and pounds his fist on his door.


“Talk to me,” Chester pleads. “Please. I want to help you.”


Mike squeezes his eyes shut, swallowing the words he wants to say.


“Go.” He could taste the daffodils on the back of his tongue. “Just go.”


“Do you mean that?”


Mike cups his lips, his knuckles white and his palms sticky.


No. Don’t go. Please love me. Please, please, please—


It’s only when the rapping stops and the footsteps retreat does Mike allow himself to cry.




*****




When it gets difficult to leave his bed, Mike picks up a pen.


His hand trembles and his handwriting is barely legible but he soldiers on. It’s the least he could do.


The sun has long vanished by the time he signs his last letter. There’s a bucket by his ankle, stinking the room with the sweet scent of blood and flowers.


Mike’s gaze roams over the paper in his grasp and wonders if he should write it down, the three words he’s dying to say.


But he doesn’t because he’s a fucking coward.


No, not a coward, he thinks later in the comfort of his bed at two in the morning with crimson dribbling down his chin. Selfless.


Brad would say he’s ‘self-sacrificing’ or maybe even ‘a fucking idiot’. Mike thinks they’re one of the same.




*****




Anna makes him honey lemon tea. The lemon sitting on the counter is a vibrant shade of yellow.


God, he fucking hates yellow.




*****




“Hey, it’s me. Chester. I don’t know what’s going on with you but... Brad told me everything’s fine but… Look if you’re going through some shit, I just… You know I’m here for you, right? Just like you were there for me throughout all the shit I was going through. We’re a team, you hear me? You said we were a team. We’re… I love you, okay? My door’s open any time so… Just call me.”


“He loves me,” Mike whispers hours later to no one before spitting out another mouthful.


Droplets splatter onto his phone. Mike smears it with his thumb.




*****




“You need to tell him,” Brad tells him harshly. “You can’t let him— He can’t kill you.”


Mike barks out a laugh, coarse and weary. The urge to reach inside him and rip his throat out doesn’t waver.


The tube of acrylic in his grasp is lavender. Mike hates that almost every color in his collection is named after flowers.


“He’s not killing me.”


Brad scoffs. “Don’t be an idiot, Mike.”


He shakes his head before picking up a different tube. It’s as yellow as the daffodils rooted inside of him. He’s sick of them.


“It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault he…” His breath hitches, the flowers in his lungs threatening to force themselves upwards. “It’s my fault I fell… I…”


“Mike,” Anna says, her voice cool like a spring breeze, “it's no one's fault. You can't control how you feel.”


No, she's wrong. She's so fucking wrong because he's going to die and when Chester finds out, he's going to...going to...


Mike would’ve laughed at how stupid it sounds if he hadn’t broken into a coughing fit and suddenly he’s collapsing and he can’t breathe— He can’t—


He fucking can’t.




*****




“I love you,” Mike mumbles to the Polaroid in his grip.


Chester’s grin doesn’t waver. Mike's lungs and heart ache.


In another time, he’ll love him back and Mike wouldn’t be dying.


In another time, Mike wouldn’t have loved him and he wouldn’t be dying either.


In another time, Mike would’ve never met Chester.


In another time, Mike and Chester would hate each other.


In every time besides this, neither of them are martyrs or murderers.


Mike despises all of them with every fiber of his being.




*****




His lungs suddenly give out when Anna’s out grocery shopping on a Monday morning.


So this is how it ends, he thinks as his legs hit the floor. He’s dying alone all because he drove everyone away. He’s dying alone because of a measly mistake he made called love.


But then he’s not dying alone because he’s suddenly by his side.


How is he here? He shouldn’t be here. Chester shouldn’t need to watch as Mike takes his last breath, watch as his helpless self is bundled in Chester’s arms, watch as he spits out flower after flower after flower after—


“Who is it?” Chester asks, his voice barely a whisper. Mike could barely feel the tremors Chester is radiating. Not when everything is red and yellow and—


Mike digs his nails deeper into Chester’s skin. He’s sure there’s blood caked in his nails. He’s not sure if it’s his or Chester’s because the flowers keep coming and everything is spinning and— and—


Chester’s chocolate orbs are suddenly filled with clarity. It’s Mike’s final mistake.


“No,” he breathes out, but then his voice is rising and frantic as he rocks Mike in his lap. “No, no, no, no, no! You can’t— I—”


A daffodil wedges itself between Mike’s lips, another settles on his tongue. It tastes bitterly sweet.


Chester’s lips are moving and fuck, Mike swears his eyes are glistening but he can’t be because Mike’s vision is blurring and he can’t— He can’t—




*****




“Who do you think is least likely to kill me because of Hanahaki?” Chester asks, rolling onto his side.


Again, Mike doesn’t hesitate, despite the splitting headache. “Me.”


Chester intertwines their legs together. Mike’s heart skips a beat.


“Why?”


His breath is warm against Mike’s lips. There’s a twinkle reflecting off his eyes. Mike wonders if it’s his fatigue or the sunlight peeking through the curtains playing tricks on him.


“Because you’re you.”


Chester’s lips spread into a toothy grin. It blinds Mike for a split second.




*****




And just like that, his eyes snap open.






*****






You can read more about Hanahaki here: https://fanlore.org/wiki/Hanahaki_Disease

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